4 New York Deli Rye Sourdough

This is bread 31 of the 41 breads listed in the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge.  Even though this challenge is almost 2 years old, some folks have successfully completed it in one year.  Fortunately,  Chris from A Ku Indeed has started another challenge group for this year.  Take a peek at the BBA Facebook page.  If you have ever wanted to learn all about the basics of making bread, come join the group!  It's never too late and you can go at your pace.  All you need is a love for bread and the book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

I'm not a fan of rye bread, so I approached this challenge half hearted-ly.  I do know that my father and hubby love rye bread, especially pastrami on rye, so I made this bread for them.  I halved this recipe to make (2) 1 pound free standing loaves.

This bread begins with a rye sponge starter: starter, rye white rye flour, water, and onions are mixed together.  What?!?  Onions?  I'm not a fan of fruit in my breads, let alone chunks of onions. 

I ground my rye kernels in my electric wheat grinder and sifted them to make "white" rye flour.  What is left behind is the bran, or outer husk of the kernels, which is not used in this recipe.

Combined all the ingredients required for the sponge starter (sans onions).  Here it is, four hours later, bubbling happily. 

I put this into the fridge overnight.  The next day, the rye starter is taken out for one hour to remove the chill.  While it is warming up, I check on other BBA posts on this bread and decided to add the onions, a "must have" for this bread.  One large onion is chopped and sauteed in oil till translucent.  Hey, I don't want crunchy onions in this bread!

Flours, brown sugar, salt, yeast are put together...caraway seeds are optional. 
Add the starter, shortening and buttermilk.  I like to use butter milk powder (4T. + 1 c. water).
I threw in the onions, mixed it till everything came together into a soft, not sticky mass...let it sit for 5 minutes so the gluten can begin to develop.
It is really, really hard to tell if this is ready....the chunks of onions are getting in the way of being able to tell if this dough is "smooth" and ready.  Also, Peter Reinhart recommends completing the kneading in 6 minutes or less....over-kneading can cause this bread to become "gummy."  The dough is put into a lightly greased container, covered, and allowed to rise till double in size, around 90 minutes.

I divided the dough into 2 piles and shaped them into batards.  An egg wash was brushed onto the fullen risen loaves...

Slashed with a sharp tomato knife...I think the slashing de-flated my loaves a little... you can see the over-proofing of the side of my left loaf, which looks like a big, ugly stretch mark....

and put into a hot oven for 10 minutes, rotated 180° and baked for an additional 10 minutes.

The loaves are golden brown all over and make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.  They cool for the mandatory one hour on a rack.  If you cut into it right away, your centers will not be fully cooked. 

An hour has passed.  Let's take a look at the inside:

A nice, tight crumb, with a crispy crust.  I pick up a slice and closely inspect it for the onions.  I could not SEE any....looked at another slice.  Couldn't see any there, either.  The only onions visible were outside on the crust.  I take a bite.

I was surprised.  It didn't taste too bad.  I could detect a slight taste of onions, which complemented the bread nicely.  I have to say that this bread, for me, will be an "acquired taste."

My father and hubby loved the bread.  My father wants the next one to have caraway seeds; in fact my mom gave me some for my next rye bread...

As a pastrami sandwich, they loved it even more!

Next time, I will make this in a loaf pan for sandwiches.


  1. It turned out so beautifully! The only rye I've made is Swedish Rye, but it's been years. I love the idea of adding the onions. Well done!

  2. Your loaves look terrific! I'm on this bread now. The rye starter is waiting in my fridge, and I'm hoping to do the final dough tomorrow. We will finish eventually! =)

  3. LouAnne & Di, Thank you!

    Di, I can't wait to see your finished loaves. Fingers crossed!

  4. Now that is one beautiful loaf of bread!


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